Western content is heading to Chinese social media feeds

By way of tie-ups with China-based social media platforms, Western online networks are bringing selected content into the country notorious for its high barriers-to-entry

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 April, 2017, 2:58pm
UPDATED : Friday, 14 April, 2017, 2:59pm

By Melissa Goh

Chinese social media users will soon benefit from a flood of new international content entering their feeds.

That’s thanks to recent tie-ups between local social media platforms and digital content distributor network Yoola to bring selected content, primarily from the United States and Russia, into the Chinese market. Local partners include social media giants Weibo and Tencent , as well as Youku-Tudou, Toutiao, Miapoi, Kuaishou, Bilibili, Meipai, AcFun, and Aipai.

This comes against a backdrop of Western internet companies, including Facebook and Google , long struggling to gain footing in the Chinese market. Both are currently blocked in the mainland.

Yoola is one of YouTube’s multi-channel networks (MCN), third-party service providers that work with YouTube channels to offer audience development, content programming and monetising services, among others. The company currently manages more than 72,000 channels, driving over 7 billion monthly views with more than 650 million subscribers across the network.

Through a localisation process, which includes translating, editing, operating and promoting the content on different networks in China, Yoola is aiming to help influencers gain traction in China — and, in doing so, bridging international content gaps.

“People think that content that works well in the West can succeed in China, but that’s not true. There is still a very big language and cultural barrier that we help creators overcome,” Eyal Baumel, CEO of Yoola, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

There are high barriers-to-entry into the Chinese market, Baumel said, “not just in terms of localising content, but also from understanding and adjusting to Chinese market preferences.”

He also cited the differences in monetising as a key impediment for Western access: “Here in the U.S. and in the West, more than 95 per cent of the majority of revenue comes from video advertisements. In China, it’s maybe ten per cent, usually less.”

Instead, digital gifting, brand integrations and e-commerce drive revenue streams, Baumel said.

Beyond the distribution of content, Yoola is also using its own production studio to explore opportunities in the Chinese live streaming market. “There’s a huge opportunity that’s not going to slow down,” said Baumel. “We are big believers.”

Western content is heading to Chinese social media feeds